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Unified communications and collaboration (UCC) is the enterprise equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. In other words, it can seemingly do anything. Whereas a Swiss Army knife combines differently sized blades with a mini pair of scissors, a screwdriver, a corkscrew, a nail file, and other features depending on the model, a UCC platform is an all-in-one solution that encompasses some or all the following in a single interface:
UCC solutions vary in what features they actually support, but are united in how they create a bridge between enterprise communications services such as voice and video with collaboration tools such as online meetings and screen sharing. Another way to think of the structure of a UCC platform is as a combination of a unified communications (UC) platform on the one hand and collaboration on the other.
There are standalone UC implementations, often centered on calls, messages and meetings; these systems provide flexible, scalable and economical alternatives to a traditional PBX. The addition of collaboration services within a UCC suite extends the utility of UC by making it even better suited to supporting remote and on-the-go employees, who value cross-platform support and the ability to view as much information as possible in one interface.
A well-integrated unified communications and collaboration suite will help make your team more productive while also likely reducing what you spend on communications infrastructure and enterprise applications. Let's explore a few of the specific benefits.
The sheer number of commercially available collaboration tools is overwhelming. Accordingly, it's common for organizations to overbuy and in turn exhaust their employees, who abandon the applications in question at astonishing rates. A Localytics report found that 23% of end users abandoned a mobile app after only one use.
Reasons for abandonment range from having to complete a complex setup process to discovering that the app's functionality is too narrow. The high number of apps that users have to switch between also takes a big toll on productivity, reducing it by as much as 40% in some cases.
UCC solves these problems by putting as much as possible in one place. For example, it might present a view that combines a list of your contacts - containing presence indicators to show if they're online - with tabs/windows for each of your instant messaging conversations and easy one-click access to voice and video conferencing.
Such a setup conveniently interweaves functionality that might otherwise require multiple apps and the hassle that comes with navigating them. Bottom line: It's a better user experience.
Telecommuting has been on the rise in the U.S. for years as workers gain access to more capable devices and faster wireless networks. Still, a relatively small share of employees have access to it - only 7 percent of employers provide telework arrangements.
One reason why may be concerned about the productivity of remote workers, which can suffer from their relatively high reliance on software solutions to stay in touch with their colleagues. A 2018 study of knowledge workers found they lost the equivalent of 32 working days a year to toggling between communications apps.
With UCC, they can collaborate more easily and consistently with just one app or small set of interconnected tools. Making calls, checking voicemail, sending messages and hopping onto web conferences can all be handled via the same interface, which saves precious time and helps everyone stay focused.
Modern UCC platforms can be accessed from phones and tablets and often include features allowing calls to be seamlessly handed off between devices and networks. They also support real-time collaboration via rich virtual meeting spaces and video conferencing, which can obviate the need for most in-person meet-ups.
Switching to UCC can save most organizations money, in two main ways.
First, it combines most or all major business communications expenses into one subscription paid to the provider, assuming the UCC implementation is cloud-based. This simplifies payment and helps weed out any costs that had previously been either overlooked or impossible to manage, like needing to overpay for Primary Rate Interface channels in a PBX.
Second, it translates many capital expenditures into operating expenditures. On-premises communications infrastructure that the company previously had to maintain at great cost will give way to provider-hosted and managed resources. The OPEX nature of many UCC solutions (also known as Unified Communications and Collaboration-as-a-Service suites) makes them ideal for businesses seeking better agility as they grow and their business requirements evolve in tandem. Adding users, increasing capacity and changing features are much easier than with an on-prem equivalent.
When shopping for a UCC system, look for a vendor with expertise across multiple relevant domains such as hosted VoIP, dedicated internet access and network security. Telesystem offers a broad portfolio of voice solutions, along with a unified communications platform built for today's increasingly mobile workforce.